tv [untitled] October 27, 2011 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT
>> good morning. i am proud employee of the department of veteran affairs. i have worked at the va for 23 years. i have been working with homeless veterans for 21 of those years. [applause] my title now is coordinator. that translates to regional homeless coordinator. region 21 encompasses northern nevada, all of northern california, hawaii, and
guam. i want to make sure we have enough resources to end homelessness for veterans. i am proud to be here. i want to welcome all of you to our kickoff event. this is to help launch our national tick off event. the purpose of that is to make the public aware of all of the services available for ending almost as. there were 28 sites. to run the country. san francisco was one of those. they wanted us to do a kickoff event and let each site decide how they wanted to showcase their program. we got together and said we
could not do this without our community partners. the purpose of the networking breakfast was to acknowledge the 30 or more community providers that are here today to help us figh homelessness and end it by 2015. that is the goal of the current administration. [applause] we had our breakfast this morning. people may still be hungry. there is coffee and other goodies. thank you to the salvation army for hosting this event. we have helicopters. we did not do that on purpose, but it adds to the drama -- and the sun came out.
i am going to start by welcoming our honored guests. ed is the acting medical center director and my friend. we have worked together a long time. he is a big believer in our mission. lieutenants smith, regional commander of the salvation army. come up here. thank you. [applause] the principal deputy undersecretary for health. he flew in all the way from washington to be here and speak with us. thank you. [applause] state senator leno, thank you for being here. [applause] mayor lee, thank you very much. we're happy to show you the facility. [applause] and nancy pelosi, democratic
leader of the house of representatives. thank you for being here. [applause] we are going to hear inspirational words from all of them. i am pretty excited about that. the pressure is on. i am going to take a few minutes to call out some folks to show you how we all work together. our partners have really helped us today. is kathleen mccall here? she is the director of the golden gate cemetery. she is one of our partners. thank you for being here. we have our folks from social security. please stand up. thank you for being here. [applause]
did i miss somebody? sarah is here as well from social security. when we do our vet connect, she helps us. we get clothing donated and tailored. they shower and leave with tailored clothes to go interview for jobs. that is pretty special. thank you. [applause] ophelia bascall is the regional administrator for hud. ed cabrera, thank you for being here. [applause] ed and the council are big
proponents"srgu on opening dood working on endling homelessness for veterans and everyone. martha is another great provider. she keeps us on the straight and narrow getting our permanent housing vouchers out. my buddy from washington used to be in palo alto. he is now the chief clinical director of clinical operations for the eight homeless programs, keith. [applause] over there is my other buddy. i have lots of bodies. -- i have lots of buddies. is from the mayor's office. thank you for being here.
we could not have done this event without the salvation army. i want to thank jack, the executive director, for all the work you did for this event. i am going to go quickly. stephanie hall, the program director, thank you. cathy cooke, is a veteran's case manager. john, the administrative assistant. then we have lainie and judy. lainie and judy ar ethe the p.r people for the va incidents -- and the salvation army.
thank you. we have people from the state department of veterans affairs. please stand. thank you. [applause] then we have the d.a. case workers, the chief of social work, joanne peters. please stand. we cannot do this without you. [applause] i want to do a special shop out -- shoult out to john walter, our outreach worker at the va. some job descriptions set all other duties as assigned, he got the assignment of our reach as well. margie from the va and jeff joseph, thank you for being here. [applause] oh, wow.
i am so used to my boss, the visiting director, sheila c ohen. we traveled together for three days. she is the visiting director. [applause] we were doing and out each event in hawaii. i think announced to as a homeless coordinator. we also have the chief operating officer for the division here. [applause] last but not least is my deputy. thank you for being here. [applause] jake martin, thank you. [applause] that is a lot of people. now we are going to have welcoming remarks from the
acting medical director. [applause] >> i guess i get to raise the boom. i did not need any added pressure, but thank you anyway. good morning. welcome, everyone. i would like to welcome our honored guest, lt col. steve smith, senator leno, mayor lee, thank you all for coming today. madam leader, thank you for your an unwavering support to our veterans. it is an honor and pleasure to have you here today. [applause] i am so proud of our mission and to be here today as we bring attention to the effort to end homelessness.
she has covered the important role our community plays in the effort. as a career va employee, i have had the privilege of serving america's veterans. it is a particular honor to serve in the mission to eliminate homelessness. sadly, veterans lead the nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. these are daunting facts. something must be done about it. with the cooperation and partnership of those of you here today, we will work together to decisively end homelessness. we've heard the list of the formal forces that have gathered. together, i think we can do it. is our honor, duty, and mission to help those in need. the va has set a goal of ending homelessness among veterans by 2015.
some may find this a difficult if not impossible goal. we do know that we can reach this goal together with the assistance of our federal, state, and community partners. those who have served this nation as veterans should never find themselves on the streets living without care or hope. i remember the words of an elected official who spoke at the wall-breaking of our recently opened a clinic. he said he heard people talking about veterans deserving this care. he said there is no deserving in the equation, you have earned it. we agree with that. on behalf of the va medical center in san francisco, a pledge our unwavering support and dedication -- i pledge our unwavering support and dedication to that task. [applause] >> please help me in welcoming
lieutenant colonel smith, the divisional commander of the salvation army. [applause] >> i think we're all fighting the microphone today. we're pleased to have you. the salvation army facility. this is one of two alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers in san francisco. it is part of a myriad of programs we operate in the city. at harbor lights, a veterans can break free from the chains of addiction 3 comprehensive treatment program that offers progressive care, education, work force development, and character-building elements. that is combined with top not counseling and resources offered
by the veterans administration's. our graduates have the opportunity to acquire the tools they need to achieve independence and lead healthy and productive lives. the salvation army has a long history with veterans dating back to world war i where our volunteer lassies provided care and aid to those serving on the front lines. i also have memories of my uncle who was in the salvation army during world war ii. he was assigned to oahu where he would show movies in the fields to servicemen. today whether they are newly enlisted, serving at home, or discharged, the salvation army is there to ensure the health that our brave the veterans never ends.
we're pleased to open our doors today to host this great event. we're looking forward to working with vets in the future and specifically to eliminate homelessness among our local vets. thank you very much. [applause] >> i am not going to keep moving it up and down. our first speaker today is va principal deputy undersecretary for health. he leaves programs for the veterans of the administration. he has been a longtime leader with the va and is responsible for implementing a broad reforms in the delivery of specialty and emergency care and have significantly improved the quality of care provided across the va health care system. [applause]
>> thank you. it is my pleasure to be here. thank you for that nice introduction. i have to get this fixed. as a cardiologists, i still see patients. that is the most important thing i do. it helps to give me the perspective of how to make things better. let me thank the salvation army for hosting us today. this is a wonderful opportunity. i like to recognize the elected officials as of everybody has already done. i think this is a very important statement, the fact that you are here today. it means a lot to this community and us. it is a statement about the kind of support there is for ending
veteran homelessness. the folks who have put this together have done a fantastic job. there is little i can say that would add anything to the probable commitment they have to making this program work. as you will hear and learn, this is not something the va can do by itself. this is a program that is built around the organization of our community partners in ending this terrible problem of homelessness for the veterans. to the community service folks, thank you. we realize you are the ones doing the heavy lifting. your contribution is absolutely necessary in this effort. the veteran service organizations, are federal, state, and local government partners, my counterparts in the state veterans affairs programs, thank you for your
leadership. to all of the veterans here and other distinguished guests, we very much appreciate your heartfelt support of this initiative. it is my pleasure to be here to help launch this veterans outreach initiative in san francisco. there are similar programs going on in 28 cities across the country. some are big in some or smaller -- are smaller, more rural areas. it has taken a tremendous amount of team work to make this successful. i am here on behalf of my boss, secretary shinseki. i want to make a comment about his commitment to this. when he was sworn in two years ago, he said one of his primary goals as secretary was to end homelessness by 2015. that is an incredible statement.
he said we would end homelessness. that is going to happen not because he said it or because i am here. that is going to happen because of the passion of the local people dealing with this all across the country. it is the people's passion that will make this happen. this is a difficult situation. it will be easy to turn a blind eye to it. it would be easy to ignore it. it would be easy to blame them. we could put a token effort or mandate on it to say we did something. or we can take this on as a national commitment. it is our call. it is your call. i think the fact that you are here today, the work you do
every day, says a lot about who we are as americans and how we will continue to support those who have answered our nation's call. we do not owe this to the veterans. as you heard, it is not something they are entitled to. it is something they have earned. they have protected our freedom. in their time of need, we need to protect them and help them out. [applause] this national program is to make uthe call. sometimes they will not say they are a veteran because they do not associate their service with being a veteran. if they have served in the military, called the hotline. lend your phone. let them know there are
incredible resources there to help them. all the information packets have that number. program that into your telephones and use it. make the call. homelessness is diverse and widespread, as the veteran population is. it is not an urban problem. it is a problem across this country. it will require a national commitment. we're here today to meet that commitment. as the secretary reminds us on multiple occasions, one veteran slipping on the street on one night is one too many. we will end homelessness for madrid -- for veterans. i do emergency cardiac care peter i am a more comfortable wearing scrubs than standing up here in a suit and tie.
but another terrible problem working in emergency rooms of the homeless folks go through. on the east coast, we have harsh winters and the summers. we do not have the problem so much here. but life on the streets is dangerous. it has problems with health care as well. one of the major problems for homelessness is getting good health care. they have multiple chronic diseases. the life span of a homeless person is significantly reduced. the average american now lives to be about 80, and little less than 80. the average homeless person dies before the age of 50. it is a terrible cycle going through emergency departments. how do we break that cycle? it is not about just getting in bed for the night to it is about getting all the services that are required to turn one's life around. to get the health care. that includes mental health care, to get the medication, to get jobs. what you're hearing today and what we are seeing in these communities is, yes, we're
providing stable housing. that is a very important first step of all the important social services, education, jobs, good health care, are absolutely necessary to end this problem. i am here today to tell you that the va is strongly committed to doing that. we're absolutely committed to working with our community partners to do so. together, we will end this problem. i am not going to go through this -- i have a whole speech here, but i will not go through it. i think there's much more important time spent to hear from your local leaders. but i do want to say that this is a multi-pronged approach. the va is supported and housing-first approach. understanding getting people into a stable housing is an important first step. as i mentioned, we are equally committed to providing the health care, mental health, education, jobs, training, all the things required to end the
vicious cycle of homelessness. we have nearly 25,000 veterans in permanent housing. when secretary shinseki came on board, the best estimate was about 130,000 homeless veterans each night. as of the last most recent estimates, we're down to about 76,000. we hope to be under 60,000 by early next year and by 2015 we will end homelessness. the va has also been able to provide tremendous support to the community. there's about 40,000 community- based transition house in beds available, including the wraparound social services zymogen. we have nearly $60 million in grants to community groups across the country to provide stable housing. we're partnering, this is very important, with 78 local veterans' treatment